I picked up this early access game called Kenshi which I had seen floating around a single player sandbox rpg survival game. Rockpapershotgun did a thing on it and it intrigued me so I gave it a go and found it a combination of compelling and frustrating.
It's one of these open ended affairs where you can do a lot of things and like those games it suffers from throwing you in the deep end. It has some ingame tutorials but they often miss out whole swathes of information.
It also looks pretty awful and has a gui that would make an interface designer drop dead from shock it's bars and buttons and tiny text a complete mess.
Anyway I started off my adventure as a basic traveller called Jallsop (I forgot to name them and it picked something random) with limited resources and a stick as my weapon I used my limited funds (the currency rather alarmingly is called cats) to purchase some food and a backpack at the small settlement I started in and wandered out into the wastelands to see what I could do.
Initially I didn't find much I tried punching trees (a survival game staple) but it wouldn't let me but after some wandering I came across some copper deposits so I set about mining them. This went well till a gang of roving bandits turned up and beat me unconscious then rifled through my stuff. It seemed the starting characters have the fighting skill of a dead goose. While I waited for my character to recover I realised the bandits hadn't stolen anything from me it seems I had nothing of any value so they just left me in the dirt.
Eventually I recovered enough to apply first aid then limped my way back to the town to sell off the few copper I'd mined and rent a bed to sleep so my injuries would fully repair. This sort of repeated a few times I would run out mine for a bit sometime fall afoul of roving bands of bandits sometimes manage to run away but it allowed me to accumulate enough cats to start building stuff.
I built myself a stone mine which produced stone which seemed somewhat useless it was very bulky took up almost all inventory space and was worth a lot less than the smaller copper ore. So I decided to leave the mine assuming stone became useful later and set about building my own shack to sleep or hide in from the roving bands of bandits. So I mined more copper and on one of the trips back I encountered a bloke who initially accused me of trying to take him back to the slavers (there is slavery in the game not sure how it works) I denied this and the guy decided to join me.
Kenshi's main thing is accumulating a group of characters that you then use to build up a settlement or run trade caravans etc so getting a second person was a good step up especially getting one for free as all the people in the town wanted 6000 cats to join up which was a laughably high value for a poor badly beaten copper miner. Anyway this poor ex slave joined me he was named Fish which I took as a good omen I put him to work at the copper mine.
Bandits turned up and beat both Fish and Jallsop unconscious and broke one of Jallsops arms. I had run out of first aid kits at this point and with Fish in a recuperative comma and Jallsop with a single arm the copper mining was going very slowly. I couldn't afford any meds to fix that and with only one arm Jallsop couldn't carry Fish to the bed rolls where they could recover faster so I just had to leave him there unconscious in the desert by the copper ore for the next three game days as he slowly recovered.
I managed to scrape together enough building materials to build a shack and a stone processor which turned stone into more building materials making the stone mine useful I set about building up little outpost trying to get a farm going so I could make food myself rather having to buy it. For this I needed to build the farm but also a well. This required iron plates and greenfruit so I went back to mining more copper. At some point Fish woke up and so I put him to work mining stone.
Things were going well! Then a band of roving bandits showed up and beat Jallsop unconscious and left her bleeding out in the desert. I didn't have any first aid kits to fix this so I had Fish make a run over to her body pick her up drag her to the nearest settlement so he could buy one and save her but she died as they crossed the entrance gate.
Fish was now on his own and set about the work of making the farm work. More mining more selling and the odd beating later I had the farm setup it required quite a lot of effort in terms of water harvesting to keep the crops growing several times I forgot to top up the water and it all died out and reset back to 0. When they were finally did produce a first crop it turned out Fish had no farming skills so the harvest was minimal I think I got one green fruit out of it. It also turned out green fruit are not edible on their own and I'd not unlocked cooking yet. So somewhat of a waste of effort.
I set Fish up to do more mining and unlock the research table which would allow me to research new technologies. While I was doing this I saw some roving bandits get into a fight with some of the odd creatures that roamed the land. Both sides got beaten mostly unconscious so while they were lying there unprotected I ran over and started looting them to see if they had any good stuff. I came away with a new hat, trousers, shoes, shirt, a sword, and a load of meat and leather.
I cooked up the meat on my camp fire and for once didn't need to go a buy more food. Plus now I had a weapon. I tried my luck on a bandit I saw walking nearby. He beat me unconscious and stole my sword.
I sold off the leather and flush with cash for the first time I looked around and tried hiring a new settler. I managed to find a weird alien guy for the bargain price of 2000 cats. He had his own sword and was a hive prince (what ever that meant) and was called Flashshot we went back to the settlement and I put him to work in the well harvesting water to use on the crops. Fish went to work at the research table unlocking various things.
As time went on the roving bands of bandits were replaced by roving bands of renegade farmers. This didn't make much of a difference in terms of the beatings. Initially I was hoping farmers would be less capable and I hoped my new ally Flashshot would give them what for but they just beat them both unconscious. I tried hiding in the shack but unless I locked the door ahead of time they got in. I kept a look out and had Fish and Flashshot either run to the nearest settlement where the guards would beat these farmers up for me or run to the shack and hope they could lock themselves inside in time.
To alleviate the renegade farmer issue I decided to try and unlock defensive walls for my settlement. This required books which i could buy in the settlement so I set my settlers to mining copper to pay for it. Once I'd unlocked that I also unlocked cooking hoping to sort out my food reliance but when I built the stove it told me it needed power which I had yet to unlock.
I sketched out the walls of my settlement to prevent the gangs of renegade farmers getting in and ruining my greenfruit harvest and then slowly ground out the building materials to build them one section at a time. I'd completed maybe half the walls and non of the gates when it was time for bed. So thats where my adventure ended.
Would I recommend Kenshi to people, not sure it feels like under that awful interface and simplistic or ugly graphics there is an interesting game I had fun in parts I also spent a lot of time waiting for my characters to recover from being beaten unconscious. It's early access so it may be something that improves as the rough edges are smoothed over but there are some very rough edges there. The party aspect of it is interesting and you can start the game with a party of people which might make things easier. It feels like as you get more people you can moved from direct controlling one player to a more strategic sort of play where you assign jobs and control the group. Its something one of my favourite games of recent years factorio does well. Here there is a lot of effort to get to that.
It's definitely got a very interesting idea there whether the devs can shape a good game round it is another question.